Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

A peek into Parsi tradition and culture at Expo in Kolkatta

If you’ve always wondered what lies beyond the closely guarded boundary walls of a Parsi fire temple, especially because tradition has it that a non-Parsi is not allowed inside, your curiosity is going to be satisfied. A Parsi agyari (fire temple), as it is called by the community, will be re-created as part of a special four-day exhibition that the community in the city is organising to explain its history, traditions, lore and culture.

PARZOR-Kolkatta

The exhibition, Threads of Continuity, is being organized between October 26 and 29 by The Calcutta Zoroastrian Community‘s Religious and Charity Fund (a trust) – as part of its 150 years celebrations – in association with Parzor, a Delhi-based foundation that has been working with the support of the Unesco for the revival of Parsi culture and heritage. It’s being held at Olpadvala Memorial Hall.

There are about 650 Parsis in the city, a number that has dwindled from 2500 three decades ago. While on one hand the community rues that there has been a steady brain drain of Parsis from the city – thanks to the lack of business and career opportunities here – on the other, both the Parsi Club and the trust have tried to keep the community bonding strong by organizing cultural activities throughout the year. “But, we need to know more about our history that goes back to ancient Persia and the time when we as Zorastrians came under attack from the Muslim invaders/rulers of Persia. Facing persecution, we fled and reached the shores of Diu from where we entered Gujarat and chose to settle there after we were given shelter by the king…” said Cyrus Madan, a trustee.

“Most people do not know why non-Parsis are not allowed inside the fire temple, for that matter, many don’t know that we are not worshippers of fire. It’s just a medium through which we reach the God. We just want to de-mystify everything,” said Trista Madan, who is co-ordinating with Parzor.